Support for renters
Demand for rental properties is skyrocketing. These days, the reality for most people trying to land a rental is that they find they are just one of dozens of applicants at an inspection.
We know the best thing we can do to make rental properties more affordable for more Victorians is build more of them.
Everyone deserves the chance to have a safe, secure, and affordable home – whether you own it or not. But when it comes to protecting renters’ rights, there is always more work to do to make sure tenants get a fairer deal.
Victoria already has some of the strongest rental protections in the country. The Victorian Government has worked hard to expand and protect renters’ rights, with more than 130 reforms already in place since 2018.
Our recently released Housing Statement includes many major reforms to boost housing supply and affordability. Here are some of the key reforms helping Victorian renters:
- We will restrict rent increases between successive fixed-term leases, cracking down on an emerging trend which has seen some landlords evict tenants at the end of their first fixed-term lease in order raise the rent substantially when re-listing the rental property. If agents or landlords are issuing a new lease after they have evicted previous tenants on their first fixed-term one, they will have to offer the property at the same rent for at least 12 months. It will reduce the incentive for landlords to churn through renters by evicting them and give renters more certainty over their living arrangements.
- In 2021, we made it illegal for real estate agents or landlords to solicit or encourage higher offers than the advertised price of a rental property. However, a tight rental market with vacancy rates at record lows has put an incredible amount of pressure on prospective tenants. Increasingly, we are seeing people make their own unsolicited bids to try to give their applications a competitive edge. We will close this loophole, making it an offence to accept bids, and introduce tougher penalties for agents and landlords.
- With more people in Victoria renting than ever before, it is inevitable that the number of rental disputes has increased, too. Often, a rental dispute can be just one of a range of cost-of-living pressures a renter could be facing. VCAT should be a last resort for tenants and landlords, not the first stop. We will establish Rental Dispute Resolution Victoria, providing a one-stop shop for renters, agents, and landlords to resolve tenancy disputes over rent, damages, repairs and bonds. It will have a clear pathway to settle issues in a faster, fairer, and cheaper way – freeing up VCAT for more serious or complicated matters.
- We will build a portable rental bond scheme, where tenants can carry their rental bond from one property directly to another, rather than having to pay a new bond each time. It will ease the financial burden on tenants, who will not have to expend a substantial amount of money every time they move or wait until they have received their old bond back to pay their new one. It will also streamline the administrative process for agents and property managers, who handle dozens of rentals at any one time. And it will create a more efficient rental market, which is good news for both renters and landlords. •